Former Akal Takht head excommunicated from Sikh religion

Friday, January 29, 2010

AMRITSAR - Former “Jathedar” (head) of the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikh religion, Darshan Singh, was Friday excommunicated from the Sikh community.

The decision, which is likely to create a controversy in the Sikh religious affairs, was handed down by the five Sikh high priests after a meeting here after he failed to accept punishment for religious misconduct.

The decision was announced by Akal Takht head Gurbachan Singh here.

The entire Sikh community has been asked not to have any association with the former Akal Takht head. They have also been barred from talking to him.

He has also been barred from attending Sikh religious ceremonies. Community members have been asked not to invite him to religious functions.

Those found violating the excommunication order will face strict action, Gurbachan Singh announced.

The former Akal Takht chief was himself one of the top high priests when he held that office.

The excommunication of Darshan Singh came after a nearly two-month long stand-off between him and the Sikh clergy over certain statements made by him on Sikh religious matters, especially the ‘Dasham Granth’ by 10th Sikh guru Gobind Singh, during a visit to different parts of US November last year.

He was accused of saying objectionable things against the ‘Dasham Granth’ and Guru Gobind Singh.

Darshan Singh, a known educationist and an authority on Sikh religious affairs, was asked by the Sikh high priests to present himself before the Akal Takht by Dec 5.

Singh went till the Akal Takht, located right in front of the holiest of Sikh shrines ‘Harmandar Sahib’ inside the Golden Temple complex, but did not appear before the high priests as they waited for him inside a room.

Instead, he sat outside the Akal Takht and wanted them to come out and discuss the controversy around him in public. He was declared a ‘Tankhaiya’ - person guilty of religious misconduct.

He was asked to appear before the Sikh high priests again by Jan 7 but did not.

Following this, he was given more time to fall in line but Darshan Singh did not yield. His defiance of the top Sikh clergy led to his excommunication Friday.

Expressing anguish over the excommunication, radical Sikh organisation Dal Khalsa described the development as “sad and bad” for the Sikh community.

Dal Khalsa leader Kanwarpal Singh said, “Ironically, the recent decisions of the jathedars will divide the community vertically”.

Filed under: Religion

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